Bashir Juwara exudes positivity. Digital and in-person encounters with the 2021-2022 Guttman Community College Student Government Association (SGA) President leave a person at ease – he radiates calm and confidence. In his four years in America, Mr. Juwara has manifested his gumption to succeed by seeking out and embracing the opportunities he’s encountered on his journey. He has big plans for the future, and wants to spread motivation and make a positive change at Guttman and beyond.
For the first time in the College’s history, two outstanding students have been selected as Valedictorians of the Guttman Community College Class of 2021. Oluwadamilola Moses and Rena Safy have been exemplary scholars and leaders, and achieved perfect cumulative GPAs during their years at Guttman. Ms. Moses and Ms. Safy were honored for their achievements during the June 17th, 2021 virtual Salute to Graduates ceremony. The dual Valedictorians both majored in business administration.
In an opinion piece published on Citylimits.org, Dean of Faculty and Academic Affairs Dr. Nicola Blake advocates for support for community colleges – institutions of higher education that have been most severely impacted by the pandemic. Dean Blake cites the unprecedented experiences of Guttman’s students and faculty during the past year to call on city, state, and private sector funders to invest in community colleges. “One thing that is quite clear is that this past year has amplified the need to better serve students at the community college level–students who are the economic engine of New York,” she writes.
“I love and live off of the ‘aha’ moments students have in class when they suddenly understand or build a new understanding of a concept. That has always been what excites me about teaching, whether it’s in a math class or a seminar course.”
In addition to the value she places on new ideas that come into being for individual students, Dr. Grace Pai sees “a career in education as a means of alleviating poverty and bringing about social mobility and equality.“ She does not mince words about “a lack of equity that too often leads to social stratification” and the scope of this crisis: “I’ve always found it astonishing that in a ‘developed’ knowledge economy like the United States’ that stresses the importance of obtaining a college degree, we still have about 15% of students who don’t even graduate from high school.” Experienced as a counselor and math teacher in NYC public schools and holding a Ph.D. in international education and development with a specialization in applied statistics for program and impact evaluation, Dr. Pai is a powerful emerging voice in the critical areas of global learning, culturally relevant pedagogy (CRP), as well as diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) as they relate to race in America. During just the last turbulent year, beset by the global pandemic, the Assistant Professor of Interdisciplinary Studies has presented or spoken at over a dozen events on CRP, Collaborative Online International Learning (COIL), and racial justice.
At the 2020 Annual Faculty Teaching and Research Showcase, held virtually in February 2021, dedicated Guttman faculty members briefly presented on aspects of their work in the remote classroom during the preceding year. Coordinated by Drs. Laura Clarke and Jihyun Kim, the event highlighted the intentional nature of teaching at Guttman, from the micro of daily class activities to the macro of course design. The speakers represented a range of disciplines, course subjects, and College programs.
On July 6, 2021, President Larry Johnson announced the appointment of Dr. Eva Fernández as the Interim Provost of Stella and Charles Guttman Community College. Dr. Fernández comes to the College after serving as Associate Provost for Innovation and Student Success at Queens College since 2019. She is humbled and excited to be appointed as Guttman’s Interim Provost: “Guttman is an impressive institution on so many levels: talented faculty committed to student success, an innovative multidisciplinary curriculum that draws from the vibrancy of the NYC context, and students as diverse as they are ready to engage with higher education.”
On Thursday, July 1, 2021, Dr. Larry D. Johnson, Jr. assumes the presidency of Stella and Charles Guttman Community College. He was selected on February 1, 2021, by the CUNY Board of Trustees after a national search was conducted. President Johnson comes to CUNY after serving as the president of Phoenix College, a community college in Maricopa County, Arizona. He succeeds Dr. Doris Cintrón, who served as the College’s interim president from August 1, 2020-June 30, 2021.
Author and Guttman Professor Dr. Angela Banner Joseph has recently published Autentica! Afro-Latinx Women in the African Diaspora presenting the stories of Afro-Latinx women. “I am excited to honor these 24 fearless, trailblazers, women who have individually or collectively owned their African identities in the Americas.” In an era where representation matters, Afro-Latinx Women’s narratives in literature have been extremely far and few between. Dr. Joseph writes about women who struggle with self, identity, vulnerability and bravery in the face of racism. By telling these stories, Dr. Joseph gives a space for Afro Latinx Women in the African diaspora to share their lives and authentically be themselves.
Dr. Gholdy Muhammad Leads Workshop on Historically Responsive and Culturally Relevant Pedagogy during Guttman’s Assessment Days
As the featured guest during Guttman’s Fall II Assessment Days, author of Cultivating Genius: An Equity Framework for Culturally and Historically Responsive Literacy and faculty at Georgia State University Dr. Gholdy Muhammad led an interactive workshop virtually for our instructional staff. Having presented the HILL Pedagogy – Histories, Identities, Literacies, Liberation – to the entire Guttman community in a previous virtual event, Dr. Muhammad’s session delved deeper into her framework’s overarching goals of Academic Success, Cultural Competence, and Sociopolitical Consciousness, which encompass the skill-building that students obtain and practice in class; their personal and social identities and backgrounds, in conversation with those of others; and the knowledge they gain from lived experiences outside of the classroom. In the workshop, Guttman faculty participated in revising an existing or new assignment according to the more granular criteria Dr. Mohammad has elaborated: advancing Identity, Skills, Intellect, Criticality, and Joy. The activity was designed for faculty to intentionally reflect on their higher-stakes written course assignments and directly incorporate effective, equitable, and affirming premises. This effort demonstrates and furthers the work of First-Year Experience (FYE) and English faculty to “decolonize” the curriculum, under the leadership of Assistant Professor of English and Area Coordinator for Writing Dr. Meghan Gilbert-Hickey and FYE Program Coordinator and Professor of English Dr. Dan Collins. The College’s institutional investment in student-centered, culturally relevant and responsive pedagogy, and best practices focused on equity is well-documented within the digital Center for Practice, Technology, and Innovation (CPTI).
Dr. Meghan Gilbert-Hickey has recently been published as a contributor and co-editor of the book Race In Young Adult Speculative Fiction by University Press of Mississippi. Along with Miranda A. Green-Barteet, Dr. Hickey present an anthology of essays that examine the unfolding genre of speculative fiction and of systemic racism and discrimination that have been embedded yet overlooked within these narratives. This anthology features the contributions of Malin Alkestrand, Joshua Yu Burnett, Sean P. Connors, Jill Coste, Meghan Gilbert-Hickey, Miranda A. Green-Barteet, Sierra Hale, Kathryn Strong Hansen, Elizabeth Ho, Esther L. Jones, Sarah Olutola, Alex Polish, Zara Rix, Susan Tan, and Roberta Seelinger Trites.